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Dogs not on a lead

From Daniel Gibby

Sunday, 19 February 2017

I have just left the park in Hebden with my 3 year old grandson and was appalled at how many dogs were running around without a lead on. Dogs aren't to be trusted re their contact with children and should be closely monitored at all times. Being on a lead in a public place should me made a law. I would like to think what the other good folk of Hebden think.

From Andy M

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The park is mostly classified as an area where dogs can be exercised off lead (with a couple of exclusion areas) See this map

Can they be completely trusted around children? No.

From Johnny W

Sunday, 19 February 2017

I share Daniel’s concern. I would like to be able to go for a walk without a succession of dogs walking up to me, even charging at me. Not everyone is a dog lover. I would be happy to live and let live, but every time I pass people with dogs on my walks, I never know whether they are responsible owners. Why can’t owners take control? And realise that not everyone shares their love of their beasts.

Everyone should have the right to go for a walk in our parks and wonderful countryside without this risk. Walking should be relaxing. At present, it isn’t. Come on dog owners and dog walkers - please respect other walkers. If you can't control you dogs, please keep them on short leads.

From Paul Clarke

Monday, 20 February 2017

Here we go again.

From Daniel Gibby

Monday, 20 February 2017

Thank you so much for your replies. My main concern is that a child will be attacked by a dog and everyone will then be saying "why wasn't the dog on a lead?"

It's just common sense to make sure owners have their dogs on leads. I am going to contact my local councillor and MP regarding the Calder park dog situation and good people of Hebden and the surrounding areas, I urge you to do the same before it's too late. Thanks in advance.

From J Swift

Monday, 20 February 2017

I suspect that the greatest risk to children playing in the park is from other children. On that basis, my modest proposal is that children be kept on short leads. Any child who still manages to injure another child should, of course, be humanely destroyed.

Some naysayers may claim that there are no bad children, only bad parents, but I say you can't be too careful.

From Graeme K

Monday, 20 February 2017

Dogs aren't only a danger to children. As a runner I'm often bothered by dogs jumping up and snarling at me as I go past. I've been bitten on two occasions in Hardcastle Crags. Most often the owners don't even apologise, preferring to offer idiotic explanations for their pet's behaviour, including my personal favourite: 'it's because you're running'.

The only real explanation is that the owner is too ignorant to take responsibility for their animal. I've lived (and run) in two other European countries with strict leash laws and, unsurprisingly, this wasn't a problem I encountered there.

From David Tut

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

As much as I love dogs I would like to see a dog free zone especially in pubs and food premise's and the zone would be a radius of 1 mile starting at the knife in the square. This does not include blind and police dogs.

Well, that should go down well with all my dog loving friends, and then if that happens the next step forward would be the same conditions for all children under 16, and finally to put the icing on the cake, all transport as well! Could I be a bit unrealistic? Yes is the answer, but as the great Dr Martin Luther king said (I have a dream that one day).

From Daniel Gibby

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Many thanks for all your comments although I do feel that this situation isn't humorous. I am seriously concerned about the situation of dogs running free in the park. I have emailed the local MP and councillors and am seriously thinking of starting a petition to change the law so that dogs must be on leads at all times. Would any of you good Hebden folk be willing to sign it? Thanks in advance.

From Martin F

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

When I had a dog he used to like to run around in the park with other dogs, just as I have seen children run round with other children.

From Sarah W

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

If my children chased people, barked or snarled at them, jumped up at them, smeared mud on them - I would keep them next to me with a tight grip. If there were many recorded cases of children biting people, and in some cases, causing serious injury and death, I would understand if people were then disturbed if my children ran up to them barking and jumping. I wouldn't just smile, laugh and say 'oh they're fine, they just want to say hello'.

Barking and jumping up at people is intimidating, even when a dog is small (and remember, to a 5 year old, most dogs are big).

From Andy M

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The conflation of children and dogs is a curious, but often used, analogy. I have children and a dog and have owned other dogs but have never, at any point, deemed them directly comparable in terms of rights or behaviours!

Parks are generally places where people exercise their dogs off a lead and where families bring children to play. As ever, the behaviour of owners is the critical factor but perhaps more zoning within the park is a solution i.e. designated off/on lead areas - which is within the current dog control powers.

From Gary W

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Here is what the law says about dogs in public places. I've been bitten/jumped up at on a good number of occasions (when out running/biking). If your dog "makes someone worried that it might injure them" then you are breaking the law. Irresponsible dog owners unfortunately put the 'rights' of their dog above the 'rights' of other human beings.

I was in the Old Gate the other week when a woman had her big black labrador on a lead but let it lie down across the walkway through a busy part of the pub. A mature lady that I know was carrying a drink after back to a table and didn't see the dog. She went fying, smashing the glass and falling heavily on to the stone flagged floor. The staff were very helpful. But the owner didn't even ask if the lady was alright, never mind apologise for letting her jet black dog lie down blocking the main walkway through the pub.

Reporting irresponsible dog owners is sadly the only way to deal with these selfish thoughtless types.

From DB Cooper

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Whatever happened to all the 'Dogs Must Be On Leads' signs that used to be attached to a number of lampposts on Hebden and Todmorden? Was some local by-law repealed?

From Daniel Gibby

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Many thanks for all your comments. I am overwhelmed. I will now be getting a petition together so please look out for me in and around Hebden and don't be shy to come up and sign it. Let's get this going quickly before something awful happens re these canines not being on leads. Thanks for all your support good folk of Hebden.

From Graeme K

Monday, 27 February 2017

Thanks, Gary W, for that link. I didn't know that was the legal position. The law strikes me as well-intentioned but unenforceable as it relies too much on (possibly conflicting) interpretations. The good thing about a leash law is that it's simple to operate: the dog is either on a lead or it's not and that means you get a fine or you don't.

I'll certainly sign that petition when the opportunity arises - I'll look out for you, Daniel. I wonder if our councillors have views on this issue?

From Graham Barker

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I wonder if a sense of proportion is starting to slip here? Is it perhaps less that dogs are a serious problem and more that some people - some dog owners, some cyclists, some runners, some parents - increasingly want the world to revolve round them?

When I’m out walking I’d dearly love some cyclists to be kept on a lead but I’m not going to start a petition about it. Yes, there are some thoughtless dog owners but not all dogs off a lead are a problem and the law already supplies remedies for situations where a problem is persistent.

The overarching problem, it seems to me, is the increasing inability of some people to tolerate each other, apply common sense and accept some rough along with the smooth.

From Chris Barnett

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I agree wholeheartedly with the aptly named Mr.Barker (or is that a pseudonym?) I think we've all got more pressing issues to worry about in these troubled times.

From Anne H

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Well said Mr Barker. There are clear notices in the park showing where dogs can and cannot be exercised off the lead. Since the new dog orders were issued in Calderdale a couple of years ago there are very few public places where you can let them off the lead. However, there seem to be a lot of dog owners who don't comply and there are few resources to police it. I do think they could enforce it a bit better though. Perhaps they could do spot checks on the children's play area and busy areas in the town centre?

From Elizabeth B

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I felt compelled to contribute to this complex discussion as a dog owner and parent of a young child, as well as a daily user of Calder Holmes Park. I have also contributed as I believe that many of the dog owners I encounter daily in Hebden will not be habitual users of the internet and may well have no awareness of this thread.

I have a healthy wariness around dogs (and other animals) and our daughter has been taught to be sensible and cautious around even familiar animals. I foreground this as I know there are some dog owners who do not appreciate this, and who do not appreciate that not everyone is a dog lover. I would also like to stress that I share fellow posters' abhorrence at the volume of dog dirt in the town and always carry extra bags both for my own dog and to provide to anyone I see (hasn't yet happened, unfortunately) who looks likely to leave mess uncollected.

I have been walking our dog daily in and around Hebden Bridge for a year. My experience has been largely very positive. The small size and relative youth of our dog could easily make her a target for larger dogs. This has not happened at all in Hebden, although it has elsewhere.

I must say that I have encountered owners who have not been as vigilant as they should have been, and dogs who do not come to recall. I have found these owners to be in the minority and the dogs have been over-friendly rather than aggressive, approaching us on the big field. Mostly, I suspect, to greet our dog.

At the risk of being accused of ‘whataboutery’, I would like to present some of my experience.

From both way before becoming a dog owner, and in the year since, I can honestly say that I have had more dangerous 'near misses' with my daughter in the park, on the canal path and on some off-road tracks with cyclists than with dogs. Some of these cyclists have been aggressive. Equally, we have encountered many friendly and considerate cyclists. I too enjoy cycling and deplore the poor behaviour of the minority.

At some times the park is shared only by people exercising dogs and (often substantial) numbers of people partaking of various mind-altering substances. I have spent my working life with older teenagers and have no knee-jerk prejudices based on age. Indeed, most of the people I encounter at the park are lovely. I have, however, had several less positive encounters, a few which were frightening. I would not advocate the wholesale removal of drinkers/ smokers/ under-25s from the park on the basis of these.

I have been in the play park with my daughter and her friends (minus the dog, dogs should definitely not be in there) with younger teenagers throwing full pop bottles hard and repeatedly at the climbing frame and slide, with significantly younger children on there. I’ve been there when CHS year 7 and 8s have been on the basket swing loudly using language and topics of conversation really not suitable for the ears of the much younger children who use the park. Understandably, because of their ages, these children are always unaccompanied. When I’ve had to have a word, I have found these young people universally polite and understanding of the shared space.

Hebden is unusual in dog ownership in that many people do not have land with their houses here, hence the public spaces are more important for dog exercising than would perhaps be the case elsewhere. Many of the people I encounter in my walks are elderly or have a disability. The park provides a level and accessible area in which they can exercise their animals who are, for many, companions essential to their wellbeing. Walking in the surrounding countryside is an ideal solution for those able to access these areas, but it is worth pointing out that dogs cannot be off-lead where there are livestock, ground-nesting birds (at certain times), and they are subject to other restrictions in many places. It’s also worth noting that lone walkers may feel vulnerable in isolated areas, especially in the darker winter months.

From a human-society perspective, time off-lead is important in socialising dogs to behave well, learn their place, and come reliably to recall. Dogs who spend their lives on a lead can pose a threat if ever they find themselves with a degree of freedom. A dog on a lead is also only restrained insofar as an owner has the physical capacity to restrain them, as I realised several months ago in Manor Heath Park when a large dog skated her elderly and frail owner over many feet of turf to get to our (then) puppy.

Many people visit, and live in, Hebden because of its culture of outdoor pursuits, especially walking. Many of these people also own dogs. They contribute to the social, cultural, and economic life of our town and it might be worth considering the plurality of the town's demographic before demonising a significant section of it, the majority of whom behave very responsibly.

The facile response to all of this would be to say, “Well, not my dog, not my problem. Don’t have a dog if you don’t have lots of land/ physical ability etc”. But our town is more complex than this. The drunk twenty-somethings who made leery comments towards me on the way my daughter’s school sports day in the park two years ago weren’t my sons. Neither was the large man with a large can of high-strength lager who wanted, insistently (at 10am), to tell me about his ex. The young teenagers who use the playpark to burn off their (understandably boisterous) energy, they aren’t mine either. And the cyclists who don’t slow down, shout a warning, or do so very late and are incandescent with rage that they have had to slow down no, they aren’t my responsibility. To use the park requires an understanding of give and take.

I fully understand and accept that dogs not under reliable control can be dangerous and a source of anxiety to others. I feel the same myself. But I don’t think a blanket ban on dogs off-lead is a helpful approach and it runs the risk of leaving a significant number of owners, particularly older people and those with disabilities, with no safe place to exercise their dogs.

Is there not some solution or compromise that can be reached without engaging in unhelpful and inflammatory rhetoric and action?


HebWeb Forum: Dogs (May-June 2016)

HebWeb Forum: Dogs (Jan 2016)

HebWeb Forum: Dogs, continued (Jan-March 2015)

HebWeb Forum: Dogs (March-July 2014)

HebWeb Forum: Dogs not on leads (March 2014)